The promise of unlimited choice and shelf space due to an emerging on-demand universe of content has many in the industry struggling to figure out how new media revenue should be divided. This highly contentious issue is at the center of the current WGA strike. But while the WGA and the Hollywood studios duke it out over Internet residuals, many independent filmmakers are simply trying to figure out how to generate any kind of distribution income from the Net. And for these independent filmmakers, the biggest issue is how precisely to navigate today‘s fragmented world of digital distribution so that revenue even becomes a possibility. In 2008, filmmakers have many decisions to make in terms of outlets, partners and the best ways to drive audiences to their work.
The market is currently divided into two types of platforms: PCs (personal computers) and living room devices (set-top boxes, gateways and gaming consoles). The main delivery methods for both are downloads and streaming. Downloads can be DRM (digital rights management) protected files or DRM-free. Streaming solutions are often employed because they are difficult to copy.
Netflix‘s Watch Now is a streaming solution that the company is using to test new digital services. (Watch Now and services like Amazon‘s Unbox are currently not available for the Mac.) Joost is a P2P (peer to peer) streaming solution that is cross platform and ad supported. Companies like Apple (iTunes), Brightcove, GreenCine, CinemaNow, Jaman and Guba, just to name a few, also offer filmmakers sites that distribute films online.
When it comes to the living room, there are two options: traditional outlets like cable, satellite and telcos (telephone companies) offering VOD (video on demand) services via set-top boxes, or third-party devices also known as gateways (gaming consoles, digital video recorders, or DVRs, and media servers). These third-party devices receive their content via the Internet. Xbox, Vudu and AppleTV are all in this category.
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